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KPCW invites members of the Friends of the Park City and Summit County libraries to review novels and non-fiction every month.

March 2024 Book Review | 'The Covenant of Water'

"The Covenant of Water" by Abraham Verghese is the selection for this month's KPCW Book Review.
Grove Atlantic
"The Covenant of Water" by Abraham Verghese is the selection for this month's KPCW Book Review.

Dr. Abraham Verghese’s much-anticipated second novel, “The Covenant of Water," follows three generations of a family that suffers from a strange affliction or is it a curse?

Dr. Abraham Verghese’s 2009 bestseller “Cutting for Stone” sold over 1.5 million copies in the US alone. It was on the New York Times’ Bestseller list for two straight years. It’s been a 14-year gap, but in May 2023, his long-awaited second novel “The Covenant of Water” was published. It too, went right to the bestseller list.

Dr. Verghese admits it has taken some time for this second book but reminds us he does have a day job. In addition to being an author, Verghese is a physician, Professor of the Theory and Practice of Medicine and Vice Chair of Education at Stanford University Medical School.

His writing process begins with a general outline of the story mapped out on a white board. He knew he wanted a multi-generational tale with a good, strong mother-figure to carry the story and he created a wonderful one. His characters often make decisions along the way which change the course of the story.

The story begins in Kerala, on South India’s Malabar Coast. In 1900, a 12-year-old girl is sent off to marry a man 30 years her senior and in time becomes the family matriarch known as Big Ammachi. Her presence is felt by every generation as the epic story unfolds. Deep within the dynamics of relationships and life experiences is hidden a family secret.

Oprah was among the first to sing the book’s praises when she selected it as the 101st pick for her famous book club. She said it was one of the best books she’d ever read. “It’s epic. It’s transportive . . . It was unputdownable!”

Recognizing the 736-page length might be overwhelming for some readers, she allowed an extra month or two before even announcing the next book club pick. Because it’s in her top three books of all time, she’s doing her best to steward the book by negotiating for the rights for a screen version and doing a series of podcasts.

“The Covenant of Water” can be found at local libraries.

Friday Film Reviewer & Monthly Book Reviewer